Review: City Harvest’s Bid Against Hunger

Last night I had the pleasure of attending City Harvest’s Bid Against Hunger, an annual tasting event that raises funds to help feed the more than one million New Yorkers that face hunger each year. According to their website, last year’s Bid Against Hunger raised more than $1 million for City Harvest and due to Tuesday night’s very charitable attendees I’m sure this year’s event didn’t stray far from 2011’s impressive numbers.

I need to start off by saying that this was one of the most well run events I’ve ever attended. As a public relations professional I have both attended and hosted my share of events and Bid Against Hunger was a prime example of an expertly planned fundraiser. The four-hour affair featured delicious food from NYC’s top restaurants, wine tastings, signature mixed cocktails and a live and silent auction.  I must admit this was my first time experiencing a live auction and I loved every second of it. The enthusiastic auctioneer kept the crowd entertained while the eager guests with money to spend allowed for lively bidding wars.

Eric Ripert (left) and Anthony Bourdain (center) with Auctioneer

The hit of the auction had to go to acclaimed chef Eric Ripert and my favorite culinary badass Anthony Bourdain. Auctioning off a chauffeured trip to Hartford, CT and VIP tickets to Ripert and Bourdain’s stage show Good vs. Evil, both celeb chefs promised an unforgettable night. Bourdain kept the crowd intrigued with promises of “many dick jokes” and a “deep-tissue massage for the winner” by his pal Ripert. While it was difficult to keep my hand from flying up, I was relieved as the lucky winner spent a solid $13,000 on the coveted experience.

Of course the featured fare is the true reason why Bid Against Hunger is a continued success. New Leaf Restaurant & Bar’s cheese grits did not disappoint while I’m still craving Peruvian restaurant Raymi’s ceviche. Red Rooster Harlem’s open-faced pork sandwich was a guest favorite and chef Marcus Samuelsson was on hand to take pictures and mingle with event attendees. I’ve been a fan of Samuelsson for years so I relished the opportunity to meet the famed chef. Cool and relaxed, Samuelsson was extremely humble. He took time to personally greet everyone who came up to the Red Rooster table and was on hand for numerous fan pictures. When I asked him what his ideal last meal would be Samuelsson casually remarked “a little chicken, a little family.” In the end, a very cool guy.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bid Against Hunger and I know I wasn’t alone as the party was still in full swing late into the night. It was a superb event, my taste buds were beyond satisfied and I took delight in having the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the world’s most renowned chefs. Besides throwing great parties City Harvest is truly a remarkable organization doing a lot of good in our city. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this December, City Harvest works tirelessly to provide food for those who need it most. To learn more about City Harvest and their initiatives, or to find out how you can get involved, visit their website.

And now in no particular order I give you the Bid Against Hunger’s superlatives:

Best Dish: The Darby’s Heirloom Tomato Soup with Bacon Flavored popcorn (trust me)

The Darby’s Heirloom Tomato Soup

Best Dessert: FP Patisserie by Francois Payard’s Chocolate Macaron

Best Wine: Rodney Strong Vineyards’ Pinot Noir

Best Drink: Momofuku’s bar Booker & Dax’s Old Fashioned (not a whiskey fan but the use of red pepper really made this drink)

Nicest Chef: Top Chef Masters’ Kerry Heffernan
Kerry, who was extremely down to earth and personable, competed on the most recent season of Top Chef Masters in support of City Harvest. He also mentioned that for every Twitter follower he received within 24 hours of Tuesday’s Bid Against Hunger he would donate $50 to City Harvest. Be sure to Tweet him!@Kheffernan212

Best Comment Overheard during Live Auction: “I heard Joe Biden was a huge hit with your kids last weekend” (said one impeccably dressed woman to another impeccably dressed woman).

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